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Orchids, cloud forests and archeology

By Sheridan Sansegundo

Audubon Eco Journeys are offering the chance to make a journey to Coatepec and Xalapa, a spectacular land of cloud forests, orchids, birds, butterflies, and archeological ruins.

Audubon Eco Journeys tour
Coatepec and Xalapa
Tue, Nov 13-Sun, Nov 17 (incorrect dates)
US$610 or by phone 415 152-3644

On the journey to Coatepec, the group will visit Cantona, the largest pre-Hispanic city yet discovered in Mesoamerica. Set in a landscape of cactus, yucca and pine, the site comprises a road network with over 500 cobblestone causeways, more than 3,000 individual patios, residences, 24 ball courts and an elaborate acropolis with multiple ceremonial buildings and temples.

After checking into a new hotel near the center of the Pueblo Mágico of Coatepec (elevation 4,300 feet) there will be time to start exploring the town, famous for its orchid museum, which boasts over 3,000 species, and as Mexico’s “capital of coffee.”

Coatepec, or Serpent Mountain, from the Náhuatl, was one of the most sacred places of mythology and religion because it was the birthplace of the god Huitzilopochtli. When the Mexica founded their capital Tenochtitlan, they wanted to create a replica of the sacred mountain at the heart of their city. As many Aztec scholars have demonstrated, the Templo Mayor is in fact a replica of Coatepec.

On the following days, the group will hike and bird-watch in the nearby tropical areas of Cerro de las Culebras, Macuiltepetl State Park and the Texolo waterfalls in Xico (where the jewels were hidden in “Romancing the Stone”), led by world-renowned bird guide, Robert Straub. A trip to nearby Xalapa, the capital city of Veracruz, will offer a chance to visit the Museum of Anthropology, which quite a few people prefer to the one in Mexico City, and the magnificent Jardín Botánico Francisco Javier Clavijero, with its 16 acres of tropical plants.

The cost of the trip is US$610 for Audubon society members or $635 for nonmembers, based on double occupancy. Those interested in going on this trip have been asked to contact Colleen Besman at or by phone at 415 152-3644.

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